Campus Life

Open Mike — Looking back on a year like no other

As we wrap up the final week of the semester, I want to pause for a moment and acknowledge the remarkable effort and coordination it has taken to bring us to this point.

Certainly, 2020 has been a year like no other. We knew at the start this new decade would pose challenges, but I don’t think any of us could have predicted what the year had in store for us. Yet, the University of Lethbridge community came together and rose to the many challenges set before us.

When I think back to March and the days and weeks that ensued – it was truly a time of extraordinary measures. In a matter of days, we closed our facilities and moved our classes and our work online.

It wasn’t easy.

Dinner tables became workspaces, while parents juggled online meetings with little ones on their laps and shepherded homeschooling for older kids. Separated from aging family members, many managed elder care from afar. And all the while, we had to learn new technologies and new ways to do our work.

Courses, research programs, student services and institutional operations were all adapted with great care and expediency.

As the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, we persisted. With our students and the safety of our community as top priorities, we continued to move forward to deliver the educational and research experience for which the University of Lethbridge is known.

Despite these challenges, we have many causes for celebration.

• Although we are not on campus, teams from across the University are collaborating in new and fantastic ways to ensure our operations continue effectively.

• Professors have found new ways to support students, structure their courses and deliver course material.

• Extraordinary research, inquiry and creative achievement continue to bring new light to problems and possibilities, engage students and garner accolades.

• Experiential learning opportunities have taken on new forms and continue to provide fantastic experiences for students. In the fall 2020 semester, 1,222 students participated in at least one work-integrated experience, for a total of 63,385 work-integrated learning placement hours.

• Overall, our fall enrolment was up 0.4 percent from fall 2019, with 8,987 students registered in classes. Teams from across the University are working together on new retention and recruitment strategies and initiatives for 2021.

• The University community came together to celebrate two convocation ceremonies and the achievement of 1,667 students. We found a new way to make convocation memorable and meaningful for our students and their families, and the outpouring of support and messages of congratulations to our graduates from our faculty, staff and community members was heartwarming.

• And despite all the challenges, our University placed second overall in the primarily undergraduate classification in this year's national Maclean’s University Rankings Report — our highest placement to date. This speaks to the impact of our collective efforts. This achievement is truly a testament to what can be achieved when we work together.

I extend my most sincere thank you to each and every member of the University community for your incredible work this year, for your long hours, your fortitude and your dedication to our students and our University.

Thank you for rising above the challenges and continuing to shine.

As we head into break, I would like to stress that although things will look different this year, the holidays are not cancelled. And just as we have done all year long, we will need to find new ways to celebrate safely.

Although we can’t physically gather, it is so important to connect with family, friends and co-workers. Please continue to be there to check in on your colleagues throughout the holidays. The support we consistently show one another is what makes our uLethbridge community so extraordinary. If you are struggling, please reach out and access the Employee and Family Assistance Program.

I also hope you will take the time over the extended break to rest and recharge and do the things that bring you joy and happiness.

I truly believe brighter days are just around the corner, and there are great things in store for us in 2021.

Please stay safe and healthy over the holiday season.